In his epistle, James tells us “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)
I believe one of the ways we are most at risk for “being polluted by the world” is by not living a life of gratitude. If we aren’t looking for reasons to give thanks to God, the pollution of this world tends to make us negative, resentful, bitter and ungodly.
In that same verse of Scripture, James also tells us that God’s idea of acceptable religion is ministry to those most vulnerable—especially widows and orphans.
This week, I’m using my “Pastor’s Gratitude Journal” to offer thanksgiving for the newly created Widows and Widowers Group at Good Shepherd and for those members who chose to be a part of its very first meeting.
This past Labor Day, Monday, September 7, I had the blessing and honor to gather with six wonderful Christians who fit the criteria of being a widow or widower. We met last Monday morning in Good Shepherd’s conference room and enjoyed coffee, donuts, prayer and fellowship. These six special ladies and gentlemen all share one thing in common—their earthly lives were suddenly, profoundly and permanently changed at a given point in time by the loss of their spouse.
Within the group, there was a range of 30 years all the way down to less than one year that these group members have lived without their spouses. I can tell you, as a husband, this is not a concept I can experientially relate to. As a psychologist and a minister, I can only theoretically and theologically relate, but I realize, that’s not quite the same.
Even though most in the group have known each other for some time, I found it intriguing as each took a turn formally introducing themselves to the group and identifying who they are based on a dearly departed loved one who has gone home to be with the Lord. I was moved by what a beautiful dialogue it was to witness, even as it was only something I can intellectually attempt to apprehend and not fully comprehend. There was clearly a God-ordained bond that linked them in a way that only God Himself can do and in a way that only they themselves can relate.
In the end, I believe this first meeting of our Widows and Widowers Group was a great success and will be a blessing to those who participate as this ministry moves forward. I wish to express my appreciation to each who attended, including Vincent Chatelain, Norma Cook, Carl Graf, Maria Heikamp, Thom Kolesa and Stan McDonald.
I ask you to hold these members in prayer as they continue to be a support for each other and continue to be an inspiration to the rest of us as they let the light of God shine through their lives, even in the midst of grief and loss.